Press Releases

For Immediate Release
January 30, 2019

Rachaele Raynoff, Joe Marvilli – (212) 720-3471

City Planning Unveils Zoning Proposal To Codify Vision Developed With Community And Elected Officials For Inclusive Growth and Expanded Economic Opportunities In A Green Gowanus

Details of Zoning Include Innovative Approaches to Reinforce the Neighborhood’s Diverse Mix of Uses, Provide Affordable Housing, Jobs and Waterfront Open Space

Vision sketch of Gowanus canal bridge crossing with waterfront development and pedestrian activity

New York - Building on extensive outreach and planning with local elected officials and community members, Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Marisa Lago unveiled a rezoning proposal to facilitate a vision for Gowanus’ future that is sustainable, resilient and inclusive, with a mix of uses that support new affordable housing and local economic and job growth.

DCP Director Marisa Lago said, “Does it get more dynamic and eclectic than Gowanus? We’ve been listening to, learning from and working with neighborhood residents, businesses, community organizations and elected officials. There’s a consistent message:  grow smart and grow green. Now it’s time to devise land use policies that spur job creation across a broad array of sectors; that create and preserve housing, including permanently affordable housing; and that provide new open space as the Canal is cleaned up. This will assure that the Gowanus that we love today will remain a vibrant mixed-use community for generations of Brooklynites to come.”

The draft Gowanus zoning proposal, which will be a part of a comprehensive package of City initiatives, seeks to achieve multiple goals outlined in the Gowanus Framework with areas to support mixed-use growth with affordable housing, areas to maintain and grow Gowanus’ commercial and industrial businesses, and special tools to activate ground floors and create new public spaces. The Gowanus Canal will become the centerpiece of a green, resilient neighborhood with new, sustainable, mixed use development boasting more than six acres of new open space and parks.

 “The Gowanus draft zoning proposal is a strong next step toward the sustainable, inclusive, mixed-use neighborhood that the community has been envisioning for many years,” said New York City Council Member Brad Lander. “The draft zoning proposal and framework updates address issues of environmental remediation and sustainability, a dynamic and resilient waterfront, significant new affordable and market-rate housing, public housing improvements, preserving the ‘Gowanus mix’ of arts and manufacturing, integrated schools, historic preservation, new open space, and school and transit improvements. If we keep working together, listening to community voices, having honest conversations about hard issues, and pushing ourselves to be creative and mindful of our shared values, we will be able to make one of the largest rezonings of the de Blasio Administration also turn out to be one of the best.”

“The Gowanus neighborhood is one of the most vital and diverse neighborhoods in the city with a long and rich history,” said New York City Council Member Stephen Levin. “The community engagement efforts during the rezoning process, one the largest of the de Blasio Administration, have been comprehensive and ongoing. Those efforts have ensured that the draft zoning proposal and framework address issues of environmental remediation and work to preserve the ‘Gowanus mix’ of arts, industry, and manufacturing. We want to continue to work towards using this opportunity to strengthen our public housing, provide economic opportunity, create new open spaces, and honor the historical character of the neighborhood. We need to continue to engage all the stakeholders in the community to ensure that everyone benefits from this ambitious rezoning.”

“Gowanus has a rich history as an industrial and manufacturing hub in New York City,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation. “The Gowanus neighborhood plan will foster an inclusive and more resilient community by promoting economic growth and affordable housing. I applaud our colleagues at the Department of City Planning for their tremendous work on this effort.”

“Through Housing New York, we are planning for the future of neighborhoods to ensure they are anchored with affordable housing and economic opportunity,” said Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Maria Torres-Springer. “This community-driven proposal for a greener, more resilient Gowanus puts the priorities of residents front and center, including strategies to develop new affordable housing, safeguard affordability, and protect tenants so people can stay in their homes and neighborhoods.  I want to thank Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin for their leadership and look forward to our continued work with the community to create a sustainable, inclusive Gowanus that thrives for generations to come.”

“Green, resilient public space helps New York City’s neighborhoods thrive and flourish, and we are always in favor of creating more of it,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “As Gowanus continues to grow and the Canal is cleaned up, Parks will continue to engage the community to ensure there is plenty of dynamic park space to grow with it.”

“The Department of Small Business Services is committed to supporting the city’s local economy by providing valuable business services and by connecting employers to local talent through our network of Workforce1 Career Centers,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “The rezoning proposal released today is an important step in unlocking economic potential to build a more vibrant city for all New Yorkers.”

The zoning proposal covers an area roughly bounded by Bond Street to the west, Baltic Street to the north, 4th Avenue to the east, and Huntington, 3rd, 7th and 15th streets to the south. [See map on DCP website for precise boundaries.]

A Green, Resilient Neighborhood
To foster a more sustainable and resilient neighborhood, a package of zoning and related City initiatives includes:

  • Measures for remediation of brownfield sites to safely accommodate new development;
  • Requirements for new development along the canal to meet more stringent standards for climate resilient development and to elevate the shoreline to protect against long-term daily tidal flooding while allowing for access to the waterfront;
  • Standards set in a Gowanus Waterfront Access Plan to ensure creation of continuous, high-quality public waterfront open space with ecologically functional design across properties and street ends, including opportunities for green infrastructure to reduce the impacts of runoff;
  • Measures to promote the creation of new community resources, like neighborhood open space and schools;
  • A zoning transit easement on properties above subway stations along 4th Avenue to support new entrances, ADA accessibility and other station improvements – resulting in convenience for commuters and a more transit oriented and energy efficient neighborhood;
  • Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) infrastructure upgrades including recently completed sewer construction as well as planning, design and property acquisition for infrastructure to reduce sewage entering the Canal. This work and additional planned City investments complement the federal Superfund cleanup of the Canal that is well underway.

Zoning to Meet Community Objectives – Economic Development and Housing
The draft zoning proposal would reinforce the local economy and support job growth. Areas will be maintained for light industrial, artist, commercial, and community activity only, including those between 3rd and 4th Avenue and around 4th and Hoyt Streets. The proposal will also increase density for job-generating uses and new rules would foster a contextual, loft-style building form sought by many businesses today, but which is difficult to construct under the current zoning. To further support business growth and expansion, outdated parking and loading requirements for commercial and industrial uses would be eliminated.

Along the Canal and near Thomas Greene Playground, carefully crafted zoning requirements and incentives would facilitate larger-scale mixed-use developments with active ground floors, housing and an incentive for uses that reflect the neighborhood character. These include light industrial and repair-based businesses, nonprofit organizations, arts and cultural uses, and other job-generating uses. Publicly accessible waterfront open space also would be mandated in connection with private developments along the Canal.

As a whole, the proposal would promote an inclusive neighborhood by providing much-needed housing opportunities to a diverse range of incomes. Where new residential is permitted, new buildings would be required to provide a portion of the residential space as permanently affordable housing under the provisions of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program.

A longstanding issue for the community is that a large portion of 4th Avenue rezoned as part of the 2003 Park Slope Rezoning allows for new development without any affordable housing. To ensure new developments along 4th Avenue set aside a certain amount of permanently affordable housing, the proposed zoning would apply MIH coupled with a moderate increase in the existing allowable density. Additionally, existing ground-floor parking could be replaced by active ground-floor uses to further improve the streetscape and safety along 4th Avenue.

And on a vacant City-owned site, known as Public Place, at the corner of Smith and 5th Streets, the rezoning will facilitate redevelopment of the site for affordable housing and complementary uses. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is engaging the community in planning for a major mixed-use development with housing reaching deeper levels of affordability and additional space for community facilities, retail and open space.

In tandem with the zoning, HPD has also pledged to work throughout the study area to implement a set of strategies to maintain and improve existing housing by financing and safeguarding affordability, protecting tenants, supporting homeowners, developing new affordable housing opportunities, and promoting safe and healthy housing. Central to the City’s housing strategies are anti-displacement programs to protect existing low-income tenants in the Gowanus area. This will include new programs like the Certification of No Harassment, which would apply along with the enactment of the proposed zoning, and legal services for tenants facing eviction, which have been in place in the Gowanus area since the beginning of the planning process.

Next steps
DCP will continue public engagement with an open house on February 6, 2019 to share and gather feedback on the zoning proposal. In addition, the City will continue to develop and advance programmatic strategies as part of a comprehensive planning effort to address sustainability & resiliency, remediation, cultural & community resources, housing, economic & job development, schools, and transportation in Gowanus.

In addition, DCP will also continue working with businesses, local stakeholders and users in the IBZ to analyze their needs with respect to land use, infrastructure, and workforce development, and develop a vision for the IBZ’s future where businesses can grow and thrive.

At the open house, City agencies will update the community on programs and projects identified previously by the community during the planning process including:

  • Coordinate infrastructure improvements throughout the area in tandem with the continued cleanup of the Gowanus Canal to accommodate existing and future needs;
  • Promote workforce development and job training opportunities for NYCHA and other neighborhood residents, particularly for City-sponsored projects;
  • Fulfilling a 2017 Mayoral pledge to add additional funds to renovate and reopen the Gowanus Houses Community Center, the City will provide $4 million in funding for the project and is putting together a plan to meet with local stakeholders when the project officially kicks off. The Community Center will be operated in partnership with DYCD as a Cornerstone Program to provide engaging, high-quality, year-round programs for young people and adults;
  • Connect businesses, property owners and nonprofits with programs, grants, and services that support entrepreneurship, business growth, and revitalization projects.

DCP will publish a Draft Scope of Work for the Environmental Impact Statement and hold a public scoping meeting this spring to solicit comments to inform the environmental review.

Once a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and land use application are complete, the official public review process (ULURP) will begin, offering opportunities for additional public input at each step.

For more details on the proposal, the environmental review process or ULURP, follow the Gowanus project page at